Smart Telecom to offer TV over broadband

14 Feb 2005

Telecoms operator Smart Telecom is planning to deploy internet protocol (IP) TV services to consumers based close to metropolitan area networks (MANs) around Ireland, has learned. The company is already offering customers in new housing developments close to its MANs in Smithfield, Dublin, and in Cork 48-channel television services over broadband.

Last week the company said it will introduce a new 2Mbps residential broadband service for €35 per month. The service will include voice and will have no monthly line rental for the first 100,000 customers. According to Smart’s CEO Oisín Fanning, the service will start to go live from 1 March.

The company said that the 2Mbps service – which it claims is four times faster than existing DSL services – will have no upload or download limits. Smart intends to roll out the nationwide broadband service in four phases, beginning with Dublin. The second phase will cover Cork, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick and Waterford. The third phase will cover Arklow, Athlone, Ballina, Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dundalk, Ennis, Kilkenny, Mallow, Mullingar, Naas, Portlaoise, Shannon, Sligo, Thurles, Tullamore, Tralee, Wexford. The fourth and final phase will cover urban locations be based upon the Government’s MAN rollout.

However, Fanning said the company is already looking beyond 2Mbps services to more broadband-intensive applications that customers close to the various MANs countrywide can take advantage of, including television over broadband using broadband rates up to 6Mbps.

As well as IP TV, the company is preparing a variety of offerings ranging from voice-over IP to self-provisioning whereby users can increase the amount of broadband available to them based on need (for example, to ensure the speedy download of a movie or game or for videoconferencing).

Fanning said: “We’ve been doing research into what the Irish consumer actually wants from broadband and the internet and top of the list right now are price and line rental concerns followed by speed. Further down the list are services such as IP TV but eventually you will be able to download Setanta Sports and upgrade bandwidth from home in order to do so. Already, Smart Telecom customers in Smithfield in Dublin and in new housing developments close to the Cork MAN.”

Fanning pointed to major advances in broadband services such as IP TV by Italian broadband provider Ebiscom as well as Free’s Iliad service in France.

Fanning added that Smart has forged an alliance with major Chinese telecoms provider Hauwei to drive forward developments in broadband such as IP TV. “As part of our deal with Hauwei, they’ve agreed to give us 12 engineers for four years as part of a plan to make Ireland a country of excellence for broadband services,” he said.

By John Kennedy